On the 1st Anniversary… Thoughts from the Justice 4 Grenfell team

Press Release: For Immediate Release

At the first anniversary of the Grenfell Disaster, the Justice 4 Grenfell Campaign finds itself as members of a stronger, closer and unified North Kensington community.  On the Anniversary, we will foremost honour and remember the 72 children, women and men who lost their lives. We will be here with our community and we will stand with Grenfell.
Yvette

I find myself going through three phases each day. Firstly, it feels like it was only yesterday that I stood at the base of the tower watching the ‘inferno’; at other times it feels longer than a year as there have been so many struggles, e.g. lack of permanent homes for former residents; sometimes I wake up questioning if the horror at Grenfell really happened?  I want the world to stand with Grenfell on the anniversary. The community needs to see and feel huge support at what will be a difficult time. The road to Justice continues and ‘Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.’

Moyra

One year on, as I reflect on that fateful morning, I recall that for a brief time our community felt like we were in a warzone where a bomb had been dropped. The horror of watching the fire, the pain of the loss of lives and homes as well as the frustration and anger at the absence of support from the local authority still resonates. We have stood firm and used the unity of our community and the solidarity from across the country and internationally to keep our focus on the demand for justice. Today I will honour the lives of my neighbours and friends who lost their lives so needlessly and take courage from the dignity of the bereaved families.

Tasha

I can’t believe that a year has passed, though at times I find myself still questioning if the fire at Grenfell Tower really happened. It has been a whirlwind year, and although full of so many difficult emotions that I didn’t know existed, we’ve also seen so many beautiful gestures from people to people, and city to city since. When we’ve been at our lowest, it’s been ordinary people and communities who have given strength. Today, as we mark the 1st anniversary of the fire, I want to thank this community for all that they have done and continue to do. I am so honoured to have grown up in and live in North Kensington, and will continue to fight alongside this community for as long as it takes. We will get justice but, today let’s remember the 72 men, women and beautiful children that were lost, let’s remember their families and the survivors of Grenfell Tower. Most importantly, let’s do what we have proven to the world we do so well: love and support one another.

One Year On: Solidarity Marches Nationwide

There are many Solidarity Silent Walks & Events being organised throughout the Country on the week covering the 14th June.

We’ve tried to list them all here for you. Please do get involved.

Thursday 14th June 2018:

London Silent Walk
Gathering from 17:45pm at Maxilla, walking at 7pm – Ending up at Kensington Memorial Park on St Marks Road from 8.30pm
The park will be a PRESS FREE area – please respect this!
FB Event: Grenfell Silent Walk – 1 Year On

Merseyside Solidarity Walk
18:00pm -St Luke’s Church, Liverpool
FB Event: Merseyside Solidarity Walk

Ramsgate Solidarity Event
17:45pm – Meet at Ramsgate Beach
FB Event: Ramsgate Solidarity Event

Bradford Solidarity Walk
17:45pm – Centenary Square
FB Event: Bradford Solidarity Walk

Bolton, Manchester Solidarity with Grenfell
18:15pm – Victoria Square, BR1 1RJ
FB Event: Bolton Solidarity with Grenfell

Sheffield Solidarity Event
17:00pm – Sheffield Town Hall
FB Event: Justice4Grenfell Solidarity Event

Bristol & Gloucester Unite Solidarity March
18:00pm – Gloucester Park
FB Event: Grenfell Memorial March

Bristol4Grenfell Solidarity March
17:30pm – College Green, Bristol
FB Event: Bristol4Grenfell: 1 Year ON, Remembrance and call for Justice

Edinburgh Solidarity Vigil
18:00pm – The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2
FB Event: Edinburgh Remembers Grenfell

Aberdeen Solidarity Vigil
18:30pm – St Nicholas Square
FB Event: Grenfell – One Year on

Leeds Solidarity Vigil
18:00pm – Parkinson Building, LS2 9
FB Event: Grenfell – One Year On Vigil

Leeds Solidarity Vigil & Protest
17:00pm – Leeds Art Gallery, Victoria Gardens

York Solidarity Vigil
17:45pm – St Helen’s Square, YO1 8
FB Event: York Vigil in Solidarity with Grenfell

Dundee Silent Walk
17:45pm – McManus Galleries, Dundee, DD1 1DA

Saturday 16th June:

Brighton Solidarity Demonstration
12:00pm – The Level, Lewes Road BN2 3FX
FB Event: ONE YEAR ON – Brighton and Hove Solidarity Demonstration

London Justice4Grenfell National Demonstration
12:00pm – Downing Street, march to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and then on to Parliament Square, where there will be several speakers.
FB Event: One Year On: Justice For Grenfell

Sunday 17th June:

Newcastle Remembrance Event
Details TBC (Please check this post in the following days)

‘United Voices’ Making Day 1 – RCAxJ4G

On the 28th May 2018, the RCAxJ4G Solidarity Group & Justice4Grenfell hosted a day of ‘making’ at The Curve Community Centre.

Thanks to the students at the Royal College of Art’s Justice4Grenfell Solidarity Group, the community were able to print t-shirts and bags, try out weaving green hearts, banner making and poster making.

It was a wonderful day that enabled people of all ages in the community to come together to create some beautiful work that can be used along the Silent Walk route on the 14th June to mark one year of the fire at Grenfell Tower.

We are really pleased to announce TWO additional making days, open to everybody, on the 9th & 10th June 2018 at the Royal College of Art, Dorando Close – which is a few minutes walk from Wood Lane and White City Underground Stations.   There will also be a couple of new ‘making’ stations for people to try out!

It’s really accessible – you can take the Hammersmith & City or Circle Line from Latimer Road or Ladbroke Grove to Wood Lane. From Wood Lane, it’s a really easy to get to the Campus –  we’ve included a map in the gallery. Everyone is welcome – please do come down!

We’d like to thank the RCAxJ4G Solidarity Group and also the Portable Print Studio, who facilitated the bag and t-shirt printing.

Event: One Year On – Justice For Grenfell Solidarity March


JUSTICE4GRENFELL AND THE LONDON FIRE BRIGADE’S UNION CALL ON PEOPLE FROM AROUND BRITAIN WHO DEMAND JUSTICE FOR GRENFELL TO JOIN US.

One year on and after 72 people have died and 70 injured in the Grenfell Tower fire the government leaves behind a trail of broken promises:

• 50% of survivors and displaced families are still in emergency accomodation
• No arrests yet, despite RBKC and Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation being charged with corporate manslaughter
• A Public Inquiry that a year on has only just begun, so we are no closer to the truth
• 300 tower blocks across the country covered in dangerous cladding used on Grenfell Tower. Building & safety regulations still not fit for purpose. A flammable cladding, that is STILL not banned in the UK.
• A local council who should be put into special measures because of its callous and ineffective management of the impact of the fire

THERE ARE COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS IN THE COMMUNITY WHICH WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO JOIN IN.

Event: ‘United Voices Making Day’ with Justice 4 Grenfell and the RCA J4G Solidarity Group

In the lead up to the 1 year anniversary a group of students from the Royal College of Art are working with Justice 4 Grenfell to run a series of ‘United Voices’ making days.

*Bank Holiday*
Monday 28th May, 12-5pm at The Curve, Bard Road W10 6TP

We will facilitate: banner making, t-shirt screen printing, poster image-making and more!

Free entry
All materials provided
Family friendly
All ages welcome
Some light refreshments will be available

Come and make with us to keep up the voice, and spread the love!

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry – Blog by Yvette Williams MBE (J4G)

So the Prime Minister has ‘agreed’ that the Grenfell Inquiry Panel will have two additional Panel Members. What does this really mean? The answer is in the detail or rather the missing detail!

It has not been made clear if the two additional members will have equal decision-making powers to Judge Moore-Bick; how they will be selected; if there will be any community consultation or if they will be forced upon us, based on the civil servant’s perception of what they ‘think’ we want.  Let me be clear here, we need panel members who understand our lived experience and can challenge key factors that adversely impact communities like North Kensington. This means panel members will have to probe and challenge the Judge in a wider context and not accept government legislation and public policy as ‘normal’, as part of the accepted status quo. For the record it does not solely mean that both panel members have to ‘look like us’. Yes, it would give more community confidence in the Inquiry, but it is not intrinsic to having the expertise we need. To put this in plain English -It is vital that the PM and Inquiry team does not select panel members who look like us but ‘act’ like them.

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Panel’s conclusion of Institutional racism was a watershed for inquiry outcomes and drive for change. Dr Richard Stone, a Jewish GP was a panel member. Richard also had extensive experience working against racism and social exclusion. He also sat on boards in the grant making charitable sector. One of the community organisations he funded and became involved with was the Mangrove, here in Notting Hill.  Richard originally came into contact with the Mangrove in his role as a GP. At a time when police brutality of black men was the ‘accepted’ the ‘norm’. Dr Stone was often the only local Doctor we could call out in the middle of the night to document the injuries inflicted by officers of the law.  Richard knew first hand the lived experience of the North Kensington Communities. His presence on the Public Inquiry paved the way for increased community confidence in the process.

The other missing details is why are the additional panel members only going to appointed for Phase 2 of the Inquiry. The Grenfell Inquiry website states:

‘the focus of Phase 1 will be the events of the night of 14 June 2017 and, in particular:

The existing fire safety and prevention measures at Grenfell Tower; where and how the fire started;

the development of the fire and smoke; how the fire and smoke spread from its original seat to other parts of the building; the chain of events before the decision was made that there was no further savable life in the building; and the evacuation of residents.

Phase 1 will also examine what the emergency services did by way of response, and when. The question of why they did what they did, and the adequacy of the emergency services’ response, including the appropriateness of the “stay put” policy, and the lessons to be learned, will be considered in Phase 2.’

How on earth are the additional panel members going to be able to identify lessons to be learnt if they have not heard what happened ‘on the night’ in Phase 1?? What should become clear from phase 1 is that government legislation and policy over many years all contributed to what happened on ‘the night’ and furthermore, how this has contributed to everything that is wrong with our society today. We don’t experience the impact of this, as a ‘phase;’ this is a systemic degradation and bordering inhumane treatment of communities up and down the country. This is what needs to be assessed at phase 1 and it is vital that we have two additional panel members at phase 1, who are able to raise this. What is the reason for them only sitting on the phase 2 panel, could it be about pushing forward with the already agreed inquiry schedule, that is already very late? Could it be money? Or could it be that they think that anyone with ‘community expertise’ wouldn’t understand the ‘complex technical issues’. I’m no technical building expert, but I can glean that it wasn’t solely the building materials used for the refurbishment at Grenfell tower that alone caused the fire; but rather the swathe of government deregulation policy that ‘allowed’ it to happen.

We cannot leave phase 1 to ‘privileged experts’ who talk solely about ‘technical issues.’ At least 72 people lost their lives in the fire at Grenfell Tower, many who survived still have no permanent home.

As we mourn what happened at Grenfell, we don’t talk about ‘the building’, we focus on the ‘people’. It is people who form communities.  It is people that will continue to Campaign in unity to interrogate this injustice. It is ultimately what links us to communities up and down the country; we are linked by the sheer nature of our humanity.

Yvette Williams

WOW Fest Liverpool – 3rd May 2018

On the 3rd May, Tasha made a keynote speech at WOW Fest in Liverpool at the Black-E on great George Street.

She then joined an panel of incredible people, hosted by Professor David Whyte. The panel, named #Justice4Grenfell, included Joel Benjamin, Pilgrim Tucker and Lowkey.

A wide range of topics was covered, from housing, to the initial and ongoing response by authorities, the media bias that the community faces, the housing crisis and the materials used on the tower, to name a few.

This was a very informative event, and we were able to take some important things away from it – but most importantly, as well as the vast amount of knowledge, we came away with huge support for the campaign, and the community.

Liverpool stands with Grenfell, even more so because of the similar trials and tribulations that the community of Liverpool have faced over many years. We are grateful to have their support.

 

The Shadow of Grenfell: Austerity, Gentrification and the Housing Crisis

Yvette spoke at a Public Meeting hosted by Waltham Forest Unite Branch on Wednesday 25th April. The meeting was titled –
The Shadow of Grenfell: Austerity, Gentrification and the Housing Crisis.
Yvette spoke about the Social, Historical, economical and political issues of  housing in Notting Hill. She drew a link with the current situation of the Windrush Generation and their experience of finding safe and affordable housing when they came to the UK;  Their experience of poor Housing Conditions and ruthless Landlords through to moving to social housing and the development of Housing Associations in the area. Managed decline of social housing – people moving out of the area and she also looked at the adverse impact on the local economy with the pricing out of businesses both in buildings on the Portobello Road market.
Additionally, she spoke of how gentrification was leading to the breaking up of a long standing diverse community and a new high priced purchasing community that doesn’t integrate.
Yvette said,
“The Atrocity that happened at Grenfell Tower shows us every thing that is wrong with our society. Inequality, Profit and Greed before people, discrimination, deregulation, the decline of public services, privatisation all have a hand in in what occurred.”